State education chief blasts anti-bullying bill as ‘a joke’

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan blasted anti-bullying legislation that passed the Senate on Wednesday, saying it's "a joke' now that new language was added that appears to allow bullying on religious and moral grounds.
MCT Wire
Nov 4, 2011

The bill — which came under attack Wednesday, even from the father whose son the bill was named after — would require school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies.

But the bill also has language that says requirements don’t “prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian.”

The bill passed along party-lines Wednesday, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats voting no.

Flanagan said in a statement Thursday afternoon that there should never be an excuse, reason or justification for anyone to bully, intimidate or harass a student.

“I cannot imagine any real moral conviction or religious teaching that says it is acceptable to inflict pain, humiliation and suffering on another person, especially a child,” he said.

The bill — dubbed Matt’s Law — was named after Matt Epling, an East Lansing teen who killed himself in 2002 after being bullied. His father, Kevin Epling, criticized the language on Wednesday.

“After my long relationship with families of children who have committed suicide after being bullied, I find this bill now to be a joke — especially as it is named in memory of one of those children,” Flanagan said.

— By Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Comments

dyankee

The anti bullying bill is a joke, Mr. Flanagan? The entire notion of school yard bullying is the real joke. There is aways going to be a punk or a "bully" in school. Its been this way for ever. The fact of the matter is, a majority of the time bullies in school build character in other students, especially the individual being bullied. It's part of growing up. Let it be. When the victim of bully finally takes a stand and puts an a**-whipping on the bully himself, the problem works it's self out. Just like our economy if you keep the Govt.(another bully) out of it. A bully will think twice when he/she gets a wrap on the bead...its called earning respect. In regards to the Epling case, which indeed is a sad story, I can assure you there is more to this case why Matt took his own life than simply bullying. His parents know the real story, but are sticking to the bullying card. Matt's case fits all the criteria for anti-bullying crowd to use him and his family as a poster child to legislate more controll over kids in this country....the irony of bullying. We are brain washing a generation of girls and boys that will not be able to defend our country as adults, in the time of need. Should America have run to the UN(actually we did try it your way) when that mean ole' Saddam Hussein and his punk thugs were bullying us and others on the world playground? NO! We resolve the problem by putting a Tomahawk missle into his front living room. Bullys understant one thing...overwhelming force. Did he bully us after that Mr. Flanagan? The world is not perfect so, quit trying to make it that way. Deal with the extreme cases on a per need basis and you'll have my support to deal with bullying. If you use a broad brush and suspend kids for beign adolescence kids then, you will loose my support along with a majority of Americans. I want boys in this country to grow up to be men....not 30 year old boys.

ghmomma

Wow Dyankee..........what a warped way of looking at the world.....whew!!! Very sad. I hope you don't have any children. I do hope you get spell check though.......

mamat

Dyankee- you honestly must be joking! The world today is not like it was when you grew up! You obviously don't have children who are in any school system today, nor grandchildren who can let you know what life is like. If a kid today were to give an "a@#whipping" (your words), they'll be suspended from school and if the kid is injured, they risk facing a lawsuit. Fighting, whether defending yourself or not, really doesn't solve the problem. My son lost a friend to suicide because he was bullied. The parents felt they couldn't discuss it with the school, or anyone else. There was much shock at the funeral when it came out how badly this poor kid was bullied.
GHHS has started an anti-bullying campaign this year. The students and faculty in the group, go to the middle schools, hold discussions in their own school and soon will be going to the elementary schools to attempt to stop the bullying.
I seriously doubt you are correct that there was "more to this case why Matt took his own life than simply being bullied." You live in a glass house to make an assumption like that! A child being bullied doesn't have to have anything else going on in their household or family to be bullied by peers. Educate yourself, please. The bill is atrocious! It only protects bullies.

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